As Iraq undergoes reconstruction, it may be too early to ascertain the shape of Islam in that country. But there are growing divisions among the Shiite Muslims in post-war Iraq adding to a pluralism that may possibly prevent theocratic rule by any one group, reports the Washington Post (April 20).
Shiite Muslims in Iraq are divided in their allegiance to the many leaders who are filling the leadership vacuum left by Sadam Hussein’s fall. The center of Shiite leadership in the holy city of Najaf itself has long been divided between a traditionalist wing that shuns politics and an activist wing calling for a political role for clergy. Some pledge loyalty to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khameneii while others look to Kadhim Husseini Haeri, an exiled religious leader.
While some — particularly the Sunni Muslims and Christians — predict religious strife similar to that of Lebanon’s civil war. “Others are more optimistic, hopeful that Iraq’s diversity will temper the Shiite community’s demands and that it’s moderation, so far, is a signal of intentions,” writes Anthony Shadid.